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Diary of a Madman/Madwoman

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Monteleone, John (American playwright, March 2, 1956-____), Diary of a Madman/Madwoman,

a 75-minute monodrama (performance piece) adapted from the classic Russian short story "Zapiski sumasshedshego" published in 1835 by Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol (1809-1852) into English, set in a small room with simple furnishings, the present time,

1m or 1f;

    © 1992;    script/rights available from John Monteleone, e-mail webmaster@hamptonswebdesign.com, P.O. Box 2723, Sag Harbor, New York 11963, telephone (home and work) 631-725-5251, Website www.johnmonteleone.com. Orders should specify preferred method of mail: (1) e-mail of an MS Word 6.0 document as an attached file, (2) regular mail.    Cited by playwright via ftp, July 11, 1997; Monteleone says,

  §  Dramatis Persona Madman/Madwoman (m or f).

  §  SynopsisA man slowly slides downward from a clerical position in an indifferent government bureaucracy, downward to increasing delusions, for example, that a dog has the answers to his love concerns, that he is the King of Spain and a victim of the Inquisition (among other fantasies), that his final frantic hours are as an inmate in an insane asylum.

  §  Comment The action is on a raised platform set in the center of a larger area, sparsely furnished with a tiny writing table, a wood chair, a narrow mattress and a bedspring; all of which are used in a multitude of ways to create the different mental environments, times and places of the play's journey. Audiences have loved this powerful solo performance piece as have all the critics. For the premiere, the director and playwright worked hard to bring to life the diary, and used the set very creatively. All of their discoveries are in the text. This piece is difficult and demands full use of the actor's instrument, craft and artistry. It also offers great creative choices for the actor, director, and designers.    The full-length version was written after the author performed it for many months, and expands the humanity, humor and the arc into a total evening. That version is also available. The author-actor is available to perform this work as a full production only with a run of four weeks or longer. Of course, other actors may perform it as well. Monteleone has nine one-act plays, and they can be ordered in a compilation of all nine together, or separately. All of these plays are innovative and offer strong storylines, surreal and theatrical images, interesting language and are challenging to work with on every level. The playwright wants theatre to be imaginative, poetic, powerful and moving, as well as challenging to the audience and artists working on them. They offer great room for personal and artistic discovery and are ideal for the professional theatre but can be also be done in colleges (many have) and in high schools that are not uptight.    John Monteleone has received critical acclaim as both a playwright and actor, he is a graduate of NYU Tisch SOA Graduate program, a member of the Dramatists Guild, Actors Equity, and The 42nd Street Workshop (a cooperative of writers, actors and directors developing new plays). He holds a BFA and MA, is an Artist-in-Residence and Professor of Drama at Dowling College, Oakdale, New York 11769. His review package is available upon request. He is unagented."    Research could include the source, which according to The Merriam-Webster Encylopedia of Literature, 1995 is a "Short story by Nikolay Gogol, published in 1835 as 'Zapiski sumasshedshego.' 'Diary of a Madman,' a first-person narrative presented in the form of a diary, is the tale of Poprishchin, a government clerk who gradually descends into insanity. At the outset, the narrator records his frustrations and humiliations straightforwardly, rationalizing various affronts to his dignity. Over time, however, reason gives way to delusion. His intermittent encounters with Sophie, the radiant daughter of his official superior, provoke an obsession that leads to his 'overhearing' two dogs discussing his hopelessness. As such hallucinations become more frequent, he finds solace-and his ultimate rationale-in a new identity as the rightful king of Spain, whose enemies have engineered his exile. Throughout the story, interludes of sanity provide striking counterpoint to the deepening psychosis.

  §  Themes anthropomorphy, bureaucracy, clerk, Gogol (Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, Russian playwright, short story author, and novelist, 1809-1852), Inquisition (Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1834), insanity, mental asylum, short story source.

See also John Monteleones


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Page updated August 4, 1997, May 28, June 61,  2001, by the site Webmaster.

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Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online


the more-extensive print volumes

1/2/3/4 for the Show: A Guide to Small-Cast One-Act Plays, Vols. 1 and 2

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vol. 1 [1995] ISBN 0-8108-2985-1, vol. 2 [1999] ISBN 0-8108-3600-9

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